Musical Adventure in Haiti
Three musicians from the Utah Symphony (James Hall, oboe, Yuki MacQueen, violin, John Eckstein, cello) decided to travel to Haiti this July to volunteer at a music camp run by the Holy Trinity Music School, based in Port-au-Prince. Their summer camp was on a campus just 40 miles West of Port-au-Prince (but 2 hours by car) in the village of Grand Goâve. What a learning experience for us! Although Haiti has gone through so many tough times, the students are overflowing with talent and hope.
Tropical heat and the absence of air conditioning had the faculty guest rooms feeling more like a steam sauna, so we grabbed our mosquito nets and slept out on the roof the first night.
Very Receptive Students
Most lessons took place outside because of the occasional breeze, so any shady spot became an instant teaching studio. We could hear other lessons and rehearsals from every direction, but the attention of the students was admirable. Despite the language barriers (Haitian Creole and French are the principal languages), we taught through gestures and demonstration.
James wrote: “I found the students that I taught excited and enthusiastic about the oboe. I was able to give each of them reeds I had brought from Utah, and also managed to provide them with more reeds by the time I left. What with all the teaching, coaching, rehearsing and reed-making my schedule was pretty jam-packed, but the experience was very rewarding given the student’s focus and eagerness to learn and improve”.
John and Yuki each played a selection of solo Bach for the evening vespers assembly.
On chamber music performance night we performed a movement from Schubert’s two cello Quintet and the entire Mozart Oboe Quartet, collaborating with Janet Anthony, cellist and long time organizer of Blume Haiti (Building Leaders Using Music Education) from Wisconsin, Usman Peguero, an accomplished violinist from the Dominican Republic, and Marta Kocon, a fabulous violist/educator/conductor from Denmark . It was terrific to get to know all the other volunteer faculty members from far and wide as well. An impressive bunch of dedicated people! James Hall wrote: Performing in the ever-present heat and humidity certainly was a challenge, but the positive and enthusiastic atmosphere made up for any discomfort we were experiencing.
Another Music School in the South
After our time at the summer music camp, we headed south to the scenic and historic seaside town of Jacmel. There, we also had the opportunity to teach and meet students from the Ecole De Musique Dessaix-Baptiste. Music is alive and well in Haiti, and although living conditions are challenging (to put it mildly) we were impressed by the musical talent and positive spirit of these young students.
Donations of Music Supplies from MOTUS
We are tremendously grateful for the materials so generously donated by our colleagues and friends which we were able to transport with us to Haiti and bring to the students in both Grand Goâve and Jacmel. They were all extremely thankful and appreciative, especially given the difficulties they face in obtaining music-related supplies. For more information about supporting BLUME (Building Leaders Using Music Education, please visit BLUME Haiti.